Monday, March 11, 2013

CamTESOL 2013: Spreading the PLN message to Cambodian teachers

I can't remember when I first heard about CamTESOL, but I remember telling another teacher at work about it and encouraging her to attend. Margaret immediately submitted a proposal and had her workshop accepted - she presented at CamTESOL 2010 on a project she was involved in, on teaching English in the workplace in Australia.  On her return, Margaret told me how wonderful the conference was, and I've been keen to attend ever since.

Ever since then I've been trying to think of a workshop that I could conduct that would be useful, particularly for teachers in Cambodia.  I had an idea about wanting to tell teachers about how they could join the amazing global networks of English Language teachers who are using social media, and accessing online professional development (PD).  One of my Cambodian friends works with the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (I met him when I did some volunteer work with them back in 2001) and I talked to him about my ideas, but we were both unsure of whether the infrastructure was there to enable teachers to connect.

In recent years I had noticed how much more my Cambodian friends have been using Facebook to keep in contact and share news. Then, when I was visiting my friends' home town in Kandal Province last year, I found that I was getting a roaming signal and could access the Internet there in their village.  My friends were posting to Facebook from the village and electricity was on the way!  Then, in September, I chatted on Skype with their extended family from back home in Australia.  With such rapid development, I felt the time was right!

I contacted one of the valued members of my personal learning networks, Andrea Wade who lives and works in Vietnam, and asked if she'd be interested in doing a workshop at CamTESOL with me.  She didn't hesitate for a second!  We both figured we were an excellent example of learning and sharing with teachers across the world!

For our workshop we had a very diverse and enthusiastic audience, and we got a lot of positive feedback and comments after our talk.  One person commented that it was our enthusiasm for what being connected globally meant to us that was the most meaningful aspect of our talk - exactly what we were hoping to convey!

But we had hoped to have a lot more Cambodian teachers at our talk, as we had particularly wanted to get the message out to them, as we felt they had the most to benefit by connecting with us and the world.  Perhaps it would have been better if we had been included on the 'Professional Development' stream, rather than the 'Technology' stream?  We had listed both on our submission, but on reflection perhaps we should have been more specific.   Fortunately we had many opportunities during the conference to talk to other teachers about our workshop, so were able to spread the word widely.  Andrea did a wonderful job with this, giving out our handouts to everyone she spoke to.

Andrea has already posted on the blog about our workshop - My first presentation at an international TESOL conference!  I'm not sure I can add much to her wonderful report so I'd encourage you to read her post for the full story!  I've embedded her links to our slides and handout below as well for maximum exposure!  I'd like to reiterate her thanks to Mike Griffin (@michaelegriffin) for his help with our workshop.  Mike was very gracious in agreeing to help us with our slides and it was terrific to have another #ELTchat fan at our workshop to help get our message across.
#ELTchat fans @worldteacher @michaelegriffin & @cioccas at #CamTESOL 2013

It was a very positive experience and I hope we do get more teachers connecting with us and, through us, to the global networks we find so valuable.  The idea is to support teachers in getting started, then helping them find their own way and develop their own personal learning networks.  We tried to make this as simple as possible, but it's difficult when there is so much out there, so we've also set up an Edmodo group to help us mentor teachers there as well.

Our handout - please print and share!

Our slides:

This is one of 3 posts I've done on my CamTESOL 2013 experience.  Also read about:

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